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6 Things You Need to Know About Marketing Translation

If you are a company with products that are sold in different countries, you need to implement marketing translation into your workflow to be able to target more audiences for your products. A good marketing translation will help you expand your business into new markets with precision and ease. The process includes translating marketing materials such as brochures, descriptions of products, posts in social media, etc. We’ll be digging deeper into the details of marketing translation, discussing what it means and what you should pay attention to. Let’s start by giving a basic definition of marketing translation.

What is Marketing Translation and Why is It Different?

Translating marketing differs a bit from standard translation. This is because the translator and the proofreader need to find a way to communicate the same business message in one or more languages taking a lot of things into accounts such as idioms, slogans, and everything else that exists in the culture. In this sense, translating marketing materials is different from translating a legal or medical translation. While technical accuracy is more important in legal or medical translations, accuracy means a little different in marketing translation. Your marketing materials whether they are on a billboard or on a website, the content needs to be communicated to a local (in most cases wider) culture in ways that they make sense.

Being able to communicate the source message in a powerful and culturally acceptable way, wherever it appears in the world is crucial in marketing translation. In a nutshell, conveying the message should be the ultimate goal of all marketing translations. The only way to communicate with the local population is to have a deep and comprehensive understanding of the target audience. A literal translation can be right and linguistically correct in legal or medical translation and it serves the purpose, yet utterly meaningless at the same time when it comes to marketing translation. In the next few sections, we talk about the specifics of marketing translation.

Knowledge of the Target Culture

If you have ever heard of the German linguist and translation scholar Vermeer, you have probably heard of his Skopos theory. The skopos theory is a translation approach and it emphasizes the importance of the purpose of producing the target text. Who is your target audience? What feelings do you want to evoke in your readers? In a marketing perspective, we know that we want to increase awareness of our products or services and we want our words to stimulate our audience in a way to turn them into clients. This is where it becomes vital to know your target culture. Because you will see that a literal translation simply won’t work, this is a marketing translation. You need to market your product in a way that does not clash with the target culture’s beliefs, traditions, or principles while also attracting attention. Translating marketing materials requires proficiency and experience.


There are various elements that form a society’s culture, one of which is language. A language is dynamic and is actively shaped as the behaviors of the people who speak it change. However, there are treasures in all languages that arise out of experiences of our ancestors that have gone through various incidents: Idioms. As you may expect, idioms are specific to cultures and although there are similar idioms in different cultures, most of the time there is no exact equivalent. So the literal translation of an idiom would result in failure in a marketing campaign. However, benefiting from your target culture’s idioms while marketing your services is likely to bring you traction.


Slogans are the simplest but the most creative aspect of your brand. They need to be striking, short, and catchy. However, just like idioms, slogans never ring the same bell in every language. You need to focus on the feeling it arises rather than the exact equivalent of it in another language. Marketing slogan translation is challenging but very rewarding. When KFC changed their not very nicely translated slogan, their business started booming again. You will probably agree that “eat your fingers off” does not arise the same feeling as “finger-licking good”...

Tone and Style

You should take into account the tone and style while you’re doing marketing translation. You know your target audience the best so you have to decide how you will address them. Are you going to use honorifics and adopt a kinder and more respectful tone for your insurance company or will you aim to stimulate your audience with your energetic sentences to let them buy your newest sneakers? It’s a matter of decision and consistency.

Colors and Imagery

Colors have more meanings to them than you expect. Psychology studies name this situation as “Association Psychology” which is the mental connection between colors, shapes or effects that usually stems from specific experiences. The reason UPS opts out for a brown color is that it arises a feeling of trust. And yes, there is a reason you see red in all those fast-food logos. It makes you hungry. While colors can help you build a brand, they can also spread the wrong message if the target culture is not thoroughly analyzed. For example, you might want to think twice about selling the latest beanie of your collection in China. Because wearing a green hat means that your spouse is cheating on you! Or the color black by itself can represent bad culture in Japan, while the color yellow reminds people of death.

Space Limitations

Marketing translation brings together a limit to the number of words that can be used. Because most of the time the marketing campaign is visually presented and the translation needs to occupy about the same amount of space as the original text. This situation is a challenge for most translators, however, with the right team and a sparkle of creativity, it is possible to achieve.


Marketing translation is extremely important if you want to grow your business and become global. Here at MotaWord, with 20000+ professional translators and a revolutionary collaborative-based translation platform, we provide fast, high-quality, and affordable marketing translation services. Feel free to check out our case study for Nielsen, one of the biggest marketing research firms in the world. For all your questions, you can contact us anytime by dropping a message to our 24/7 online live chat or by emailing

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